Oh, what joy abounded in my household a few weeks ago when I figured out how to go in and change our Wi-Fi access code. Of course by ‘joy abounding’ I mean my twelve year old daughter looked like she was going to have a seizure, carrying on as she was. There was some serious wailing and gnashing of teeth echoing through the house! You would have thought I’d taken away her birthday. Gratefully, since my second born was “fitting” enough for three or four kids, my sixteen year old took it in stride (more or less). According to the youngest, I’d just ruined her entire life and made “relaxing” a nearly impossible task. Right. Sure. You run with that. Oh, mom…
I was born a bit of an old soul, but that didn’t keep me from being an idiot during my second decade of life, a ‘the-universe-revolves-around-me’ teenager. As a parent of sixteen years now, I don’t think my oldest was fully out of diapers, precocious as she was, before I understood the phrase uttered by mothers and fathers for more than five millennia now: Just you wait. In fact, I’d bet good money it has always been said with a shaking head, twitching eye and pursed lips, and was preceded by a long sigh.
Yup, when I finally got “it,” got what my mom meant by all of those angry, frustrated sentiments uttered under her breath about me getting mine one day, it hit like a lightning bolt. My immediate reaction was, “Oh. I’m sooooooo sorry, mom.” Unfortunately, my mom passed away when my oldest was two and a half and I was just barely pregnant with daughter number two.
Trying to get kids to do their “fair share” around the house, to learn that at a certain point they can absolutely learn to fix their own lunches, wash their own clothes, and, yes, wipe their own butts, is the eternal struggle of all good parents. Slacker parents, parents who think it is just easier to let Pumpkin sit and play video games or hang out with friends rather than teaching them (and expecting them) to clean the kitchen are doing themselves and their kid’s future room mates, spouse, or employers a huge disservice. Work is good. Hard work is even better. I fear I was a slacker for a few years too long. I should have expected and required more from my kids at an earlier age. Getting them moving in the last couple of years had been like trying to get the Tin Man moving after a period of rust-induced torpor! But I’ve kept up the good fight, even on those really, terrible, horrible, horrific days when I almost threw in the towel and did “it” myself.
However, nothing has worked so well, been proven to be as powerful an incentive to work as destroying their internet access. Behold, my joy is full. Interestingly enough, when the distractions of instant access were removed, my girls found ways to connect with each other, and me. Best decision ever.